The term adagio is an Italian word. Although it is generally accepted as meaning “slow”, the musical dictionary gives the defination of the word as “at ease”. This is a perfect explaination when applied to ballet. Nothing is more difficult, or requires greater strength and control than slow movements well performed. This meaning of adagio should not be forgotten by the dancer as it is just this quality of effortlessness that a dancer needs to convey.
While dancing an adagio combination, the dancer displays the perfection of her line, and for this reason, nothing should upset the harmony of a position. An over extended finger will, just as much as a miss aligned hip, take away from the beauty of an arabesque. This explains why little can be cheated at in an adagio combination of steps. In fact, so much is required to be correctly placed that teachers need to be careful not to give too much instruction all at one time. A dancer can only concentrate full on one thing at a time. The physical perfection of adagio is a slow process of gaining strength and good habits.
Total concentration by the dancer is a must to gain control and extension height. The technical details of body placement are taught at the barre. After several years of ballet training, the dancer’s placement should come as second nature. Once all the dancer’s technique is corrected there, and are now force of habit, the dancer will find that if she understands the importance of what has been taught, she will be able to master it physically and technically. If the dancer is filled with the idea behind a movement all parts of her body will react accordingly. This is half the battle of a perfect adagio combination.